The Miss New Jersey Pageant was formed in 1933, with our first Miss New Jersey, Gertrude Christman.
Our first Miss America was Bette Cooper, Miss New Jersey 1937. Since then, there have been 79 Miss New Jersey’s to hold the title with grace and poise. In the beginning, the pageant was run by the Jaycees and Kiwanis Clubs of New Jersey and held in Wildwood, New Jersey.
Nate Zauber, a member of the Kiwanis club, held the title of Executive Director for over 35 years. He and his wife, Betty, dedicated their lives to the pageant and many woman benefited from their leadership. The pageant eventually relocated to Cherry Hill, NJ where it was held at Cherry Hill East High School.
Under their leadership, the Miss New Jersey Pageant was honored to have Miss New Jersey 1983 Suzette Charles, serve as Miss America. In 1990, the pageant moved back to Wildwood and stayed there until 1996, when Nate and Betty retired and the pageant moved to the Music Pier in Ocean City, New Jersey. The pageant continued to grow throughout the year’s as Ocean City became an official sponsor of the pageant and under the leadership of Mike Allegretto and Christine Wright.
In 2005, Sally Johnston, long-time traveling companion to Miss New Jersey, and Louis Barthold, former State Field Director became Co-Executive Directors of the Miss New Jersey Education Foundation. Under the leadership of Lou Barthold (along with his wife Silvia) and Sally Johnston, this program continued to grow into a thriving program dedicated to increasing our scholarship dollars and empowering women throughout the state of New Jersey.
Lou Barthold retired in 2014 and Sally Johnston was named Executive Director. The Miss New Jersey Education Foundation Executive Board was formed in 2015 and included pageant volunteers, former Miss New Jerseys, community leaders and New Jersey business owners. In 2017, Donna Ayres was appointed Co-Executive Director by the Miss America Organization. There are over 80 volunteers, many with more than 30 years-of-service to the Miss New Jersey Program, all of which have contributed to the growth of this organization into one of the leading scholarship providers for women in the State of New Jersey.
We are proud of the success of all of our Local Contestants and Miss New Jersey’s. Each of them is a shining example of the power of volunteers that are dedicated to community service. We don’t just talk about community service….we live and breathe it!
The Miss New Jersey Education Foundation